|PS Vita TV - Gaming, streaming, browsing goodness on your TV|
Created: 20-09-2013 11:17 Edited: 20-09-2013 11:44
PS Vita TV - Gaming, Streaming, Browsing Goodness on Your TVSony have been busy recently, what with the PS4 and now what looks like the best set-top TV box in the world!
In something smaller than a smart phone (65.0mm x 105.0mm x 13.6 mm), the PS Vita TV box has the power of a PS Vita games console and most of its features too. The specs are very impressive with a quad core ARM Cortex A9 CPU under the hood and a quad core SGX543MP4+ GPU it runs Vita games as well as the back catalogue of PSP and PS One games available through PSN.
The controller is a standard Dual Shock so the only thing missing is
the touch screen/touchpad capabilities. This means that not all Vita games are
compatible, but there is still over 1,300 games which you can play. The specs beat the pants off of the Apple TV and so does it's price - currently around £63 in Japan (RRP. 9,954 Yen) or £95 with a white Dual Shock 3 controller and 8GB memory card (RRP. 14,994 Yen).
For Apple TV, the gaming side seems like an afterthought with the emphasis on playing content purchased from iTunes. The PS Vita TV offers a much more powerful gaming device - plus access to Sony's huge online TV and movie services (although not as big as iTunes) and their cloud based music service 'Music Unlimited'. The Japanese version has a Hulu player along with access to 7 other popular Japanese video providers at launch. There is a built-in ebook reader too supporting books and comics, and access to Twitter. There is apparently a streaming karaoke service coming soon for it (which I am half hoping will only be available in Japan!)
More services will be added over time and there is no technical reason why this device couldn't have a YouTube, Netflix and LoveFilm application too to give customers even more choice. It also has access to email, text chat and voice chat, and the Vita web browser which might not be everyone's favourite but again it still beats the Apple TV which doesn't have one.
Just like the Vita you will be able to stream games from your PS4 to the device to play on a TV in another room with your Dual Shock 4 controller.
There is no reason why the new streaming service soon to be offered by Sony to play PS3 titles on the PS4 via the cloud should not work, opening up a library of PS3 titles too.
The device has a good stand-by feature which basically tells it to hibernate, storing the current status of your game. This way you can wake it up and continue whenever you like. You can play games against other PS Vita users via the networking 'Ad Hoc' mode, or connect 1 more Dual Shock 3 controller to play two player games (e.g. PS One titles).
It is nice to see them offer a wired network connection as well as WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) for those without decent WiFi coverage throughout their house. On the back you can also see the memory card slot, USB port and HDMI socket too which looks like it will support up to 1080i.
It launches in Japan on 14th November 2013, but sadly there are no dates available for release in other territories.
|Playstation 4 Announced Today!|
Created: 20-02-2013 21:12 Edited: 20-02-2013 21:21
Playstation 4 (PS4) Announced Today!So, the rumours were true and Sony have announced the Playstation 4 at todays live streamed event. Confirmation we have all been waiting for.
I am typing this immediately after the live streamed event so please forgive any poor grammer or rushed, random thoughts...
Sony are incorporating free-to-play into the business model of the PS4 to make it easier for developers to host these types of games - which is great news. The Playstation 3 was criticized early on by developers who found it difficult to create software for, until of course they got used to it and could harness its Cell power easier. Sony have learned from this and are basing the PS4 on "Supercharged" PC x86 architecture giving it 8GB of fast access RAM. This should speed up development time, make it easier for those new to the platform and perhaps make life easier for multiplatform games to get PlayStation versions.
Some of the new features mentioned are the ability to broadcast your gameplay to friends in realtime to show them what you are playing, and even let them take control if you need help. It also looks like you can play games streamed from the PlayStation store before you choose to buy them! This will make use of Sony's acquired Gaikai service and it looks like UStream for the live stuff. There is some very clever download and upload technology built-in so they don't interfere with gameplay and occur completely in the background. This allows the playing of games before they have completely downloaded. Downloading games or uploading videos will result in no stutter or interuption to your games as they are looked after by additional custom hardware. A power suspend mode is a great addition where you can basically pause your session and the PS4 will drop into a low power mode until you choose to resume.
The PS4 controller (pictured above) has a built-in touch pad, a special share button and a 'Move' style glowing light on the back for motion control. The analogue sticks are said to have been improved too, but it still has that comfortable and familiar shape we are all used to.
When it comes to games, self-publishing on the PlayStation Network will remain to help smaller independant game makers distribute their software. Speaking of software, there was some interesting demos displayed during the event including...
This gameplay video showed some amazing cityscapes and action sequences. The particles and lighting looks fantastic:
A first-person racing simulation with the mechanics and physics as close to real life as possible. This looks very sharp and VERY realistic.
An intreaguing and independantly created game where you travel in an open world and solve puzzles. It has been 3 years in the making and has 25 hours of gameplay filled with unique puzzles to solve.
The incredible people behind the Kara demo on the PS3 have come up with an amazing tech demo of facial rendering with emotion, running in real-time on the PS4. Kara was amazing but this is truly incredible and a great example of the power available in the Playstation 4 to make lifelike real-time rendering. As an example, their stated that in 1999 their engine could render characters with 350 polygons. In 2005 this increased to 1500 polygons. For 'Heavy Rain' on the PS3 in 2010 they were using 15,000 polygons per character. For the Kara demo they used 20,000 polygons. Now, their PS4 engine renders 30,000 polygons per character.
The Media Molecule team have been using the Move controller with the Playstation 4 to actually sculpt and create freeform objects in space to aid 3D development and modelling. Then they can animate their creations like puppeteers.
Capcom announced their brand new Panta Rhei engine running a demo of their new game 'Deep Down'. Again, this demonstrated some impressive particle, fire and shading effects.
Another realtime engine demonstration which they say is possible due to the CPU and GPU power of the PS4 with its huge amount of memory. They also announced the development of a new Final Fantasy title for the PS4.
Ubisoft presented "Watch Dogs" - a game involving control and connectivity and between devices, people and whole cities. How the information constantly streamed online can be used by criminals and vigilantes.
Activision and Bungie
Bungie, now teamed up with Activision and working with Sony talked about their new FPS game "Destiny" - described as 'a shared world shooter'. It will contain exclusive content for the PS4.
ConclusionsThe Playstation 4 certainly looks like a beast of a gaming machine. Not only the power of the device but also Sony's ethos around software development and the clever streaming and social aspects. The only disappointment was that we did not actually see what the console will look like, only the controller.
The list of supporting developers is impressive and should definately keep the PlayStation brand going strong into the next generation.
To watch the replay of the event, please go to:
|News: PS3 tech demo - Kara - how to make an android|
Created: 28-03-2012 18:24 Edited: 18-10-2012 06:15
PS3 Tech Demo - Kara - How to Make an Android
Heavy Rain creators blew everyone away at this years Game Developers Conference with a tech-demo they have been working on called "Kara". If you haven't seen it yet, watch it here:
I don't think this could have come at a better time, with there being lots of online speculation on release dates for a Playstation 4 (PS4). This just goes to show that what Sony are saying about the PS3 not yet being maxed out is absolutely true.
The video is rendered in real-time on a PS3 using Quantic Dream's new rendering engine. It is nothing short of stunning. Who would have thought a few years ago that a games console in peoples homes would be capable of such realistic CGI.
David Cage (writer and director) from Quantic Dream has said that this video is purely a tech showcase and will not be the basis of a game. Hopefully we can see a game soon using this technology though, especially as another of their demo's called The Casting was used as a stepping stone to Heavy Rain.
Best of all the 7 minute featurette tells a story with quite an emotional feel. It's not just a demonstration of technical excellence but also of how computer generated imagery can be used to tell an emotive story - successfully. It isn't cold and expressionless like so many other real-time cut scenes or even pre-rendered sequences. It has feeling and envokes a response from the viewer.
Quanic Dreams have used their new innovative motion capture technology to grab full body motion, facial movements and voice recording all at once. Previously, most motion capture involved recording the whole body actions using one method and the facial animation and voice at a different time using another method. The movie Avatar took it a step further by captured the actors body movement using broad angle cameras and smaller cameras strapped to rigid frames on their heads to grab facial expressions. Quantic Dream's new technology does away with the invasive head cams and can grab all of the subtle facial muscle movements using the same room cameras which capture their body motion too. Stick the whole thing in a sound stage and you can record the whole performance including audio in one shot. For this they have a setup with 65 cameras surrounding the actors.
For a better visual explanation watch this 'Making-Of' video:
Over 100 actresses were auditioned for the role of Kara. They picked the amazing Valorie Curry in the end who did an incredible job.
'Kara' was actually created last year using v.1 of their own brand new
PS3 engine. Apparently it now has 50% more features so future games should
be visually very special and an even bigger leap forward. I can't wait.
|View: Disney Universe - oh my god, its full of stars|
Created: 27-10-2011 19:20
Disney Universe - Oh My God, It's Full of StarsThe long awaited (by me and my daughter) Disney Universe is now available and delivers fantastic frantic family fun (too much?!). I don't normally review games, as I have said before there are plenty of sites which do that, but we preordered this game and wanted to share our thoughts.
For the full details, videos and more screenshots I suggest visiting the official Web site but suffice it to say you can play the game dressed as any of a bunch of classic Disney characters, from Mickey to Tron to Simba and soooo many more. You unlock more as you go.
You work your way with up to 3 local co-players through the different worlds of famous Disney films, such as Monsterís Inc, Lion King, Aladdin, Tim Burtonís Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Caribbean and WALL-E.
You can think of the gameplay as like a Lego game on steroids. Run around the levels activating switches, solving puzzles and most fun of all - smashing loads and loads of bad guys to pieces.
Conclusion: Everything, including the menu system, is very slick. Lovely animation and bags of 'Disney' fun all through the game. Each sub-level is quite small but that isn't a bad thing. It works really well because the puzzles and actions required to reach the exit aren't miles apart. This is essential when you have more than one player on the screen at once. The puzzles are very clever but not too tricky that they may frustrate younger players. My daughter doesn't normally go for action games like this but she absolutely loves it. She usually goes after the bad guys while I do the more difficult jumps and tasks.
We were both able to play this game a few months ago when we were invited to be play testers, and really enjoyed it. The finally released game has surpassed our expectations and provides more family fun than any other game I can think of.
|News: They're Back! (PSN)|
Created: 16-05-2011 08:29
They're Back! (PSN)
Finally the news we have all been waiting for - PSN is back up! (In Europe and the US anyway, other countries may have to wait a little longer). Update your firmware, set a new password and you'll be gaming like you've never been away.
I accidentally discovered the firmware update yesterday morning asking me to update to 3.61, slightly before the network came back up properly. It took another few hours before PSN would let me log in. I actually changed my password via the neat little Android PSN app which I can recommend. It told me about the required password change and pointed me off to the Web page. This then sent me an email with a unique URL in it valid for only 3 hours. I followed the URL, reset my password and 'hay Presto', I could log into PSN via my PS3 and Battlefield 1943 once again felt my destructive presence. From now on, you will only be able to change your password from the PS3 where the account was registered from, or your associated email account. Sony have put in place more firewalls and an early warning system to detect suspicious activity amongst other improvements.
|On a personal note, although I have missed playing online multiplayer
games I did discover some more uses for my PS3. I finally got around to
purchasing a PlayTV device for only £15 second hand from GameStation. I
also upgraded my hard disk to 500GB giving me an amazing digital TV PVR
now. It works brilliantly and I cannot fault it. I also managed to pick
up some dirt cheap PS1 games from a local car boot sale. No online play
required and still excellent local multiplayer fun.|
A new email from Sony today is letting EU customers know about PSN coming online again and the new security measures. In addition, it also says:
"To thank you for your patience whilst PSN has been unavailable, we'll be rolling out a Welcome Back programme for all PSN users shortly; this will include free games to download and a month's free subsciption to PlayStationģPlus (or a free month for existing members). Once available, we'll publish a full list of Welcome Back offers in your country at eu.playstation.com/welcomeback"
More rumours have surfaced (via Bloomberg News) about the source of the attack against the Sony servers. It looks possible that it came from Amazon's EC2 cloud servers where someone had been allowed to open an account using fake credentials in order to launch the attack. Tut, tut, tut... naughty Amazon. This highlights how easy it is to sign up for online services without having to prove who you are. Not wanting to give your life story in order to open a Web based email account is one thing, but being able to hire a cloud of computing power using fake information is no joke. No doubt Amazon will be legally requested to hand over the access logs for the account in question so the investigation can be taken further.Hackers beware... the net is closing in!